Any attempt by the University of California regents to block UCLA’s move to the Big Ten could endanger the way the governing body does business, according to a former chief of staff of a UC president.
John Sandbrook, who was chief of staff to former UC President Mark Yudof and a longtime UCLA assistant chancellor under Charles Young, told The Times that the regents trying to thwart a business transaction properly made by a university chancellor under his delegation of authority could have a chilling effect on future transactions of any type with a third party for all 10 UC campuses.
“Other members of the board of regents need to stop and think about that for a moment,” said Sandbrook, who attended more than 100 regents meetings and wrote dozens of agenda items for the board each year from 1974 to his retirement from the UC in 2010.
Two regents told The Times on Wednesday that they believed their governing body retained the authority to prevent UCLA from leaving the Pac-12 in 2024, though they stopped short of saying that authority would be exercised.
“All options are on the table,” regent John Perez said.
Asked whether he favored scrapping the deal, board chair Richard Leib told The Times it was “premature” to make that decision or evaluate whether other regents would support taking steps to block UCLA’s move to the Big Ten. Although several regents voiced concerns about the impact on the health and academic performance of athletes due to longer travel times, Leib said they could be mitigated. The use of more charter flights, for instance, would be less strenuous than commercial flights, he said.
Some regents said during Wednesday’s meeting that their objection was lack of notice about UCLA’s change in conference affiliation and that they favored proposed new rules to require more communication.
The majority of the regents, along with Gov. Gavin Newsom, have expressed concerns about how UCLA’s move — alongside cross-town rival USC — could financially wallop UC Berkeley while also increasing the strain on UCLA athletes because of the travel burden associated with competing in a conference spanning one coast to the other.